Groundskeepers found a wily way to scare off raccoons tearing up new sod on the baseball field at Millard North High School.
Sod patches, laid last fall and watered to help them root, were proving irresistible to the ring-tailed raiders visiting nightly from the adjacent Boys Town property, said North High athletic director Chad Zimmerman.
To dissuade the foraging, workers turned to a natural enemy of the masked mammal.
They set up two realistic coyote decoys near third base and shortstop, Zimmerman said.
“It worked instantaneously,” he said.
The idea for using decoys came from a worker who hunts. He had the decoys at home. With sharp white teeth and furry tails, the decoys are hard to distinguish from real animals, especially at a distance, Zimmerman said.
“It fooled me,” he said. “And I've gotten calls from people saying, 'Hey, you've got dogs out on your baseball field.' As a matter of fact, our principal was actually exiting the parking lot one day, and he thought there were dogs out there.”
While set up to scare the ringtails, the decoys have also helped deter flocks of geese from using the field for fuel and bathroom breaks, he said.
A lake on the Boys Town property attracts a lot of geese, which land in the outfield, nibble the roots of the grass and leave droppings behind, he said.
“It becomes quite an issue in the spring and fall as they migrate back and forth,” he said.
Workers have observed fewer geese since the decoys were deployed.
“We can have a good surface for the kids to play on and not have to be traipsing through stuff,” he said.
Zimmerman said he likes the decoys because they're effective but don't harm the animals. He said he's eager to see how the decoys will perform during the spring migration.
Contact the writer: